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What is a Company Controller?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Not much says "boss" like a job with the word "controller" right in the title. "Company Controller" looks fancy on a business card, but it's not a job for everyone. If you're a finance whiz with a mind for accounting, however, it might just be for you.

What Is a Company Controller?

A company controller is a master accountant. The controller is responsible for high-level accounting, as well as managing other accountants and the business's financial activities.

A controller focuses on budgeting and reporting and also oversees payroll. In addition to managing the day-to-day finances of a business, controllers are often responsible for tax preparation and may be called upon to work with external auditors as needed. Controllers manage other accountants and perform very similar functions to financial managers. They report to the chief financial officer (CFO).

The Company Controller Salary

Company controller salaries vary depending on the size of the company. The median salary for a controller as of 2018 is $187,710, with earnings typically ranging between $153,679 and $225,509. The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't track controllers specifically, but it does track financial managers, who have a median salary of $121,750 per year and an amazing job outlook between 2016 and 2026. Employment for these jobs is projected to grow 19 percent during that period, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will also vary across industries, but in today's startup-rich economy, there's a lot of demand for people with this skill set.

How to Become a Company Controller

If you're interested in a career as a company controller, start by obtaining a bachelor's degree, preferably in accounting, finance or business administration. Controller isn't a job that you can jump into right out of college, however; most companies require controllers to have at least 10 years of experience in accounting and finance. It's also a good idea to have your Certified Public Accountant license, which, while not always a requirement, is often preferred.

Becoming a controller is a natural next step for all-star accountants. It can also be a stepping stone for those who dream of one day serving as a CFO. It's worth noting, however, that putting in years as a controller is no guarantee of a CFO promotion. While controllers deal with managing the current state of a company's finances, a CFO is expected to look ahead to the future and participate in big-picture planning and strategy.